Ten quartets from around the world are selected to take part in the semi-final competition. All members of the quartets must be under the age of 35. After playing various styles of both traditional and modern chamber music before audiences over a period of several days, three finalist groups are chosen. After further performances these are judged and a winner chosen.
Each year the winning ensemble receives a cash prize and a three-year career development programme, including a recording session at Banff Centre and a performance tour of European and North American cities. There is also a cash prize for second place and smaller specific prizes.
In 2019, the First Prize was, for the first time, shared between two groups: the Marmen Quartet (UK) and the Viano String Quartet (Canada/USA). The Second Prize was awarded to the Callisto Quartet (USA).
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- Thompson, Rosemary (1 September 2019). "It's unprecedented! Two Quartets share First Prize at the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition". Banff Centre. Retrieved 23 October 2019.